A scan through the participants for this weekend’s cross-country mountain bike race in Leukerbad, Switzerland reads like a World Cup start list.
It’s no surprise given how hungry XC MTB’s elite racers are to put rubber to dirt after the bumpy road to the 2021 race season.
This weekend’s Swiss race is an important fine-tune for riders who are headed to Albstadt, Germany next week for the opening weekend of World Cup season. For some, like current World Cup champ Kate Courtney, the race in Leukerbad wraps up a month of training and racing in Europe. For other members of the U.S. Olympic long team, it’s a way to get their feet wet before Germany.
For some riders, this weekend’s race in Leukerbad will serve as a 2021 debut of sorts. While she has done some smaller races near her home in Arizona, Chloe Woodruff crashed ahead of the U.S. Pro Cup events in Fayetteville, Arkansas and wasn’t able to compete. The U.S. national champ also sat out last year’s compressed European season.
Current XC MTB world champion Pauline Ferrand Prévot will also be racing in Switzerland this weekend; the French rider has been conspicuously absent from the start lists since last year’s world championships in October. Swiss champion Jolanda Neff will have the home field advantage.
From the U.S. Olympic long team, Hannah Finchamp, Erin Huck, and Lea Davison will join Courtney and Woodruff at the start line in Leukerbad. Huck is coming off a very impressive string of results at the U.S. Pro Cup, and Davison hopes to make Tokyo her third Olympic games. American women have an unprecedented three spots for XC in Tokyo, and the early season races will determine who travels with Courtney to Japan.
A total of 925 athletes are registered in all categories for this weekend’s racing. According to the event organizer, all events will be streamed live. The elite C1 races on Sunday can be followed live on Blue TV on swiss-sport.tv.